European shares hit seven-year highs as ECB unveils QE
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.8 pct, hits 7-year high; DAX hits record
* ECB to pump 60 bln euros a month, euro currency drops
* Euro zone banks among top gainers
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - European stocks hit seven-year highs on Thursday after the European Central Bank unveiled a bond-buying scheme in a bid to revive the region's economy and stave off deflation.
ECB President Mario Draghi said the central bank would embark on a quantitative easing programme which, together with existing schemes, will pump 60 billion euros a month into the euro zone economy from this March until September next year.
"The size of the programme comes at the high end of what the market had been expecting, so it's quite a positive surprise," said Jeanne Asseraf-Bitton, head of global cross-asset research at Lyxor Asset Management.
"Now, all eyes will be on the euro zone inflation expectations, that's where we'll see if the programme is a success or not."
At 1450 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.8 percent at 1,442.53, a level not seen since early 2008. Continuación...